Summer 2016: Northside Elementary School was chosen as the location of of the 2017 Steinfirst Artist-in-Residency. School librarian Kathryn Cole created a list of preferred authors she thought would best relate to her student population. UNC-SILS graduate student (Glenna Matteson) reached out to those authors and chose Charles R. Smith Jr., on the strength of his interest in the program and his experience working with students.
August 2016: First meeting of UNC-SILS staff and Kathryn Cole. They briefly went over the timeline of planning and discussed what steps needed to be taken first, and what preparation was needed.
September 2016: Contracts for the author were drawn up and signed. The week that the artist-in-residency program would take place was chosen, on the basis of Charles’ availability and the school’s preference. Hotels were booked for his stay and preliminary preparations were made for choosing the location and logistics of the accompanying community lecture.
October 2016: UNC-SILS staff met with Northside administration, teachers, and librarian (Kathryn Cole) to go over our mutual goals, plans, and schedule for the artist-in-residency. It was important that both UNC and Northside felt confident and hopeful about the program, as well as having the internal support of the Northside educators.
Lesson Learned from 2015-16
This year, we placed an emphasis on Northside students becoming familiar with UNC-SILS staff before the weeklong artist-in-residency. In the 2015-16 program, students were (rightfully) hesitant to share personal narratives in front of individuals they had no relationship with. At this October meeting, UNC-SILS staff asked Northside team members for permission to come and work with the students beforehand, to build a community of writers that included the UNC-SILS staff.
November 2016: Kathryn Cole and Glenna Matteson met to develop a prioritized list of books for purchase for Northside Elementary and the writers.
December 2016: UNC-SILS graduate student ordered books from Charles R. Smith Jr.’s publishers. Funding covered the purchase of several library and classroom sets, and several books for each student who was chosen to participate in the program. Books were chosen by Kathryn Cole.
January 2017: Kathryn Cole chose the artist-in-residency’s participants, on the basis of her and other teacher’s informed opinions. Documenting the 2016-17 program on the program’s website began in earnest.
February 2017: A UNC-required background check on Charles R. Smith Jr., due to his participation with children, was implemented. The background check had to take place within 90 days prior to his visit. Kathryn Cole and Glenna Matteson met to develop a booklist for the writers and brainstormed how Glenna could work with the writers beforehand.
March 2017: Kathryn Cole developed a book club for the #CRSjrWriters, to familiarize the students with Charles and his books. This book club was also used as an opportunity for students to get to know each other; the program; and Glenna Matteson, who would be working with them as well. Books were ordered by UNC-SILS for the bookclub.
April 2017: The students took part in the book club and began developing their community of writers! They waited in eager anticipation for Charles’ visit in mid-April.